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What CNC Machine do you use?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by bassgrackle, Feb 18, 2019.

  1. bassgrackle

    bassgrackle Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 17, 2010
    I'm on the hunt for a CNC machine that can build bodies and necks as well as be used by the whole fam with all their projects.

    I really like the price point and size of the X-Carve. But is this really a good machine for bass building?
  2. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    An X-carve has a pretty small table, doesn’t it?

    A neck is typically something shy of 3’ long, so that could be a minimum work area dimension.

    A 2’ X 4’ table would allow you to build neck thru basses.

    I have access to a big industrial machine, a Haas VF9, so can’t help further.
  3. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    i don't think the x-carve is rigid enough or offers enough z axis. at 65mm full stroke minus tooling, you might not even make the depth of cut required for body work. the spindle seems malnourished as well and is likely gonna bog down. barely enough room for a fender style p neck (for example) unless you somehow shoehorn it in at an angle which is gonna make fixturing and programming a bit more harder.

    at $1799.00 i'd consider making my own machine.

    then there's the software to control the router and someting to design the work. a can-o-worms in itself.

    charlie, a VF9 is the size of a small motorhome :)
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2019
    charlie monroe likes this.
  4. bassgrackle

    bassgrackle Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 17, 2010
    I appreciate the incite. My search on continues then. I don't know a thing about building my own but I can sure so my homework.
  5. 83_Silberpfeil likes this.
  6. bassgrackle

    bassgrackle Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 17, 2010
    That’s good looking equipment. But more then I was willing to pay as a beginner. I have seen some guys on YouTube do full guitar body and neck routes minus the neck curve profile with the x-carve.
  7. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Commercial User

    You might check over at TDPRI - there’s a few guys over there using some smaller hobby-level CNC equipment. I’m not sure to what degree.

    That being said, unless you’re planning on doing really intricate work or churning out 20 guitars a month, a CNC setup ain’t gonna save you that much work.

    I’m looking to get my hands on a little one, but I’m mostly want it for doing stupid stuff like cutting pickup flatwork and routing templates.
  8. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    SW VT
    I have a first generation ShopBot PR96 (it's either #99 or 119 - there isn't actually a serial number anywhere on it, it was very much a garage operation at that point) - unistrut kit, build your own table, cable drives and stepper motors, serial interface, around $2k 22 years ago. And then the $900 a whack (or more) upgrades started rolling out the pipeline until you get to where they are now, gear drives and servo motors, steel tables, upgraded linear bearings, etc.

    Or, in my case, not. Odds are good that I may be the only person left with a somewhat running example of that era, but museums are not exactly ringing me up looking to take it off my hands... They lost me rather quickly and became a much different company making much different tools than what I signed up for - it happens, and they seem to be successful at it. The original was affordable and had limitations (speed, rigidity, limited precision, software), "affordability" was quickly refactored as they went after the market and addressing the limitations. Mine's been sitting a lot doing not much lately.

    I'm probably (I bought parts) scrapping the original controller (I looked at upgrading it and gagged - I'd do better buying a whole small one than trying to bring mine up to date) and going with a GRBL controller, but I'm well into build (or rebuild) from scratch due to budget and inclinations. There goes the museum option. The fact that I more-or-less built the original due to its kit nature makes that less daunting. This has the distinct hazard of spending your time and effort building the tool rather than building basses. And for one-offs, reality is that spending your effort on building the bass would be a better use of your time, if you want a bass. If you have some particular thing that makes a limited use of CNC sensible, you can rent time on other people's machines. You can do neat things on them, but it takes time (and often fixturing, which takes more time), and if you are not getting that time back by cranking out multiples it's usually not really a route to success.
    tbrannon likes this.
  9. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    for the businessman, CNC equipment brings returns on either part complexity or part quantity. if your set-up and programming isn't geared for rapid change-over you'll burn up a lot of time and overhead.

    for hobby folk, they're pretty neat to have if start-up costs and time aren't too much of a concern and the machine size is reasonable -like say a table top machine.

    i have a little ZTW 12"x 12" and i do all sorts of stuff on it from bridges to nuts, pickguards and templates, plus a ton of engraving. i would like to have something a bit larger to do necks and compound radii fretboards with, but that's going to be in the future.
    Freekmagnet and bassgrackle like this.
  10. There's a "maker space" near me with all sorts of cool equipment, including robotics, full metal milling shop and a CNC machine. Pretty good quality equipment, it looked to me.

    Seems like a cool place, but I haven't joined since most of the work I do (hobby-wise) is on the woodworking side of things and I have my own tools for most of that.

    I mention the maker space only because they are becoming a popular thing and if there is one near you you may be able to learn CNC-ing (meaning actually have instruction from people who know what they're doing and who can help you trouble-shoot your projects, all while shortening your learning curve) while getting to use better CNC equipment than you may be able to afford yourself.
    T_Bone_TL likes this.
  11. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Feb 26, 2021

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